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Remembering Ron

by Ed Sauter

Those who knew Ron Colvin (RC) will never forget him. Beneath the ever-present beard, overalls, Hawaiian shirts and sandals was a kind, smart, and caring individual who would do anything to make life better for those who worked with him.

Ron Colvin at a CFA event in 1982 – Racine, Wisconsin.

Ron was a little unconventional in his appearance and approach to things, but in a great way. I worked with Ron (I never did call him RC) throughout my tenure as executive director of the Concrete Foundations Association. He had strong ideas and made certain they were heard. If he thought an idea was “bull-xxxx,” he said so. When he became treasurer of the association, I always had to be on my toes because Ron knew more about financial reports than most people, especially me. He mentioned to me that he had worked in the banking industry at one time, but a certain disagreement with management led him down another path. He would always ask me questions I didn’t know the answers to, and I knew better than to try to bluff my way through. I’d have to say, “I’ll get back to you on that one, Ron—now if we can move on,” hoping he wouldn’t push the issue. While he may have put me on the spot when it came to financial reports, he had my back on every important issue that came to the table.

Ron Colvin (left) congratulates Barry Herbert (right) and presents him with the CFA President’s plaque for two years of service.

Ron’s passing caused me also to reflect on how important all of you have been to us. Scott and I were elected to the board at the same time, and our first meeting was also Ed’s first as head of the association. This particular group has been very important to the success of our company (we still use the footing system Ron showed us 25 or 30 years ago), but more importantly, I consider each of you a close friend. My only regret is that we see so little of one another now days. – Barry Herbert, Herbert Construction Company

Always a part of the fun. Ron here heads off to practice with his yo-yo after a lesson from the “Yo-Yo Man” at CFA Convention 2002 – Mt. Hood, OR

I talked Ron into serving on the ACI 332 Committee (Residential Concrete Construction) along with Barry Herbert when I chaired the committee (which was all about residential concrete construction) because it had nobody with true construction experience participating and representing the interest of the residential contractor. How can you talk about building with concrete without a voice from those who actually do the work?  (Note: Brent Anderson and Buck Bartley were also on that committee and became great contributors.) His outspoken and frank comments, supported by Buck, Barry and Brent, sometimes left heads turning, but they almost always won the arguments.

Ron made me think hard about the CFA and about my business. I think he made the CFA a better association, and I am sure glad I served with him. There have been some colorful people in our association – and Ron may have been the most unique!  Kind of crazy how long ago it was that Bill, Arie, Bruce, me, Barry and the others in our group were on the board with Ron. Thank you all for the memories!! – Scott Smith, MPW Construction Services

Ron had a thirst for knowledge when it came to everything related to concrete and foundations. To board meetings Ron would often arrive several days early, in his Cadillac, and drive around the town to see how others were doing things (and I’m sure correcting some of the things they were doing wrong).

An after-education conversation in Mt. Hood, OR – CFA Convention 2002. Gary Bromley (left), Buck Bartley (center), Ron Colvin (right).

I remember at Mount Hood he suggested we go for a drive through the mountain back roads to look at the scenery. I assumed we would be doing it with a 4-wheel drive Jeep, but no: he picked us up in his rental Caddy.

The last time I saw Ron was at his pool hall in Berrien Springs. Ron told me he had always wanted to have his own pool hall and he fulfilled that dream after “trying” to retire from the foundation wall business. My wife and I were traveling with some friends on our way back from a wedding in Michigan and I decided to stop in, unannounced, to see if he might be there. I had no idea where the business was located, but I figured I’d just stop in town and inquire at the local hardware store as to where I might find Ron Colvin. “Ron Who?” he said. Then it hit him: “Oh, you mean RC. He’ll be at his pool hall just outside of town.”

Ron Colvin (left) and Richard Crosby (right) engaged in one of their many talks on the value of business education topics.  CFA Convention 2001 – Niagara Falls, Ontario

I jokingly told my wife and friends as we walked in, “Just look for the big guy with overalls, a Hawaiian shirt and sandals.” Sure enough there he was, dressed in his “working attire,” sitting on a stool, working out the details to his next pool tournament. He welcomed us with open arms and seemed disappointed that we couldn’t stay more than a couple of hours. He always had time to offer advice and opinions. The world could use a few more RC’s. He will be missed by many.

One of the few captured photos of Ron in a blazer. Terry Schniepp (left) and Ron Colvin (right).

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